Many times, intangible things keep us from independence. The concept of forgiveness is a common tether that binds us to our past. Some are reluctant to forgive because the act of bearing a grudge keeps an invisible “tote board of wrongs” that designed to keep score. Against whom? For what purpose? To what end?
Remember, don’t confuse forgive with excuse. You can forgive someone a transgression without excusing it. Forgiveness is ultimately a selfish act, in that we gain more from by forgiving than the forgiven.
“When you hold resentment toward another, you are bound to that person or condition by an emotional link that is stronger than steel. Forgiveness is the only way to dissolve that link and get free.” ~ Catherine Ponder
This is a tough one. Forgiveness is almost an insult to our injuries, isn’t it? Our Ego clamors for not only recognition and acknowledgement of our pain, but (if possible) would REALLY like to extricate a pound of flesh from the party who wronged it.
Our need for “justice” is a strong chord, binding us to those who have treated us poorly or otherwise hurt us. Each of us can recall a time when we were cheated; some of us have strong dysfunctions in our background that are beyond the scope of this blogpost. However, each of us also has the capacity for forgiveness. In forgiving another, we paradoxically free ourselves.
One of the most compelling stories of forgiveness I’ve ever read comes from Holocaust survivor Eva Mozes Kor, who, along with her twin sister, were victims of Dr. Josef Mengele during World War II.
“No one could give me that power. No one could take it away,” she said. “Everyone has the power to forgive. You can use it in any way you wish.” ~ Eva Mozes Kor
Some of us perhaps haven’t spoken to certain family members for some time, nursing a grudge or harboring a resentment over a slight (perceived or real). Perhaps you are angry with your ex-spouse. This may be an opportunity to reflect upon why this situation exists and to also recognize our own part in continuing the pattern.
By owning our behavior, we are taking responsibility for our choices. This action puts us at the center of our independence. We cannot control another; we can only control ourselves and our actions in response to others.
“A person who has forgiven is a liberated person. I call forgiveness a seed of peace.” ~ Eva Mozes Kor
Forgiving doesn’t mean continued exposure to hurt, however. We can forgive a stove for being hot, but that doesn’t mean that we need to keep putting our hands on the heated stove top. Acknowledgement of a situation, realizing our part in it, forgiving, releasing ourselves and others before moving forward are all essential steps to achieving independence.
“Forgiveness does not change the past, but it does enlarge the future.” ~ Paul Boese
Righteous indignation is a false “gain” some cling to when considering forgiving another. It can be a comforting cocoon of sorts to be the one with whom others sympathize (“She’s been so brave” or “He’s had to suffer so much.”). What is this dubious prize ultimately costing you (aside from your independence)? Take a moment and answer a few questions:
- What is it specifically that bothers me about this situation?
- What it is about me or my behavior that I recognize in the other person?
- Is the other person even aware that I feel wrong/betrayed? Has (s)he tried to make things right between us?
- How much energy have I spent harboring this grudge? What have I lost?
- What do I hope to gain by continuing this behavior?
By releasing the hold others have on you, you lighten your load. You have the capacity to expand into something greater. Do a quick psychological “cost/benefits analysis” and see what you can achieve by forgiving another (or yourself). Have you ever forgiven someone and felt better because of it? Have you been forgiven? How has it changed your life?
How can you become more independent by releasing yourself by forgiving another (or yourself)?
Molly Cantrell-Kraig is a woman with drive. Possessing an innate sense of purpose and a pragmatic, solution-based approach to empowering people, she fused these two traits in order to establish Women With Drive Foundation. Based upon its founder’s personal history, Women With Drive Foundation is a means through which Cantrell-Kraig may effect change on both a micro and macro level. By providing women with something as essential as personal transportation in order to transition them from poverty to prosperity, she, through Women With Drive Foundation, seeks to empower women to help them help themselves. Through this action, the individual applicant benefits, as does society as a whole. Follow Molly on twitter as @mckra1g or @WWDr1ve (Women With Drive Foundation) or “Like” us on facebook.